At times, I hesitate to write about my motivations because I worry about what sort of influence it has on how the NPCs are perceived. I hate watching movies with well known celebrities because it’s impossible for me to divorce the person from the role they are portraying. And when I describe said movie to others, I will invariably refer to the protagonist as “Celebrity X’s character” as opposed to the character’s name, because I can’t for the life of me remember what it is.
Similarly, when writers craft things that are personal or related to their own history, or in my case, often motivated by things that are completely unrelated to anything, it’s difficult as a reader to distance one from the other. Jadro’Ra, for instance, is a character that was inspired by adolescence, cliques and the social hierarchy. You know, mean girls, popularity contests, and sitting at the cool kids table. Nerds and jocks, beggars and mages, and everyone in between.
Now what if I told you Jadro’Ra’s story was inspired by more than some common experience, but rather a deeply personal and hilariously embarrassing event. Suppose I said I wrote Jadro’Ra because I was a male cheerleader who was constantly beat up by the captain of the football team. Later on, I took up ping pong, earned a scholarship to some esteemed Ping Pong university and subsequently shunned all my former male cheerleader friends. Immediately, your perception of Jadro’Ra would be ruined by this cringe worthy revelation. I might have ruined it just now. It would be impossible to take his story seriously knowing its ridiculously comical provenance.
This is why I typically choose character profiles that enhance the reader’s understanding of the NPC rather than twist your perception of them. However, in some cases, inspiration and understanding are not mutually exclusive, which brings us to the origin of one Sadrin Reloro. You see, Sadrin’s inspiration mirrors his character. To put it simply, he was born out of my frustration for not being able to bed Haelga.
The funny part is, I don’t find Haelga all that attractive. She’s a bit manly. She has a jaw and a frame that would make her an excellent starting linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Yet as a sworn pervert, I am not the sort of person to let looks, personality, or an assortment of diseases come between me and sexy time. So when Haelga, who was by all indications a loose woman, not only refused to bed the Dragonborn, but appeared downright hostile toward him, I was rather disappointed. Clearly, such behavior was not lore friendly.
Obviously, when creating a video game, there’s a difference between what’s lore friendly and what’s consumer friendly. In the mod, every time I want to make a reference to genitalia, I have to divine exactly what four letter words Bethesda left out in order to offend less people. Whether it’s movie stars or pixelated sex acts, the outside world is always influencing and altering the world within. So if you want to know who it was that really made Sadrin, you need only look to your government laws on censorship.
As for me, I am reminded of that very first day in Riften, and the subsequent frustration that followed. When I look at that NPC, what I see is my very first character, so much so that I often forget his name.